Football

Strikers’ spat won’t affect French squad: Michel Sablon

Ex-Belgium technical director Sablon says Les Bleus will still top Group F, while Germans have work cut out

The recent spat between forwards Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe has rekindled memories of the more notorious moments in France's history.

The players' mutiny at the 2010 World Cup and the sex-tape blackmail scandal between Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena in 2015 are two infamous examples.

GROUP F
FRANCE GERMANY

But France fans should not be too worried that the Giroud-Mbappe quarrel will be added to that list.

After France's final Euro 2020 warm-up against Bulgaria last week, Giroud, who scored twice, complained about the lack of service from teammates.

 

 

 

Mbappe, 22, has since hit back, saying he was "a little affected" by his teammate's complaints, and chided the 34-year-old for airing his views publicly, instead of resolving them in the dressing room.

I have been on Belgium's coaching team at three World Cups and I can tell you this sort of incidents happen all the time.

Most of them just don't make their way to the public.

Ideally, this incident should not have, either. But, as long as they have discussed and dealt with the situation internally and the coaching staff keeps a handle on things, I don't think it will affect France ahead of their opener against Germany tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

This is just what happens when you are away for a long period with over 20 players training intensely for a major tournament. I'm sure Covid-19 conditions only added to it.

I would even say that you need these types of tensions, where players are pushing each other to be better. It acts as fuel for elite-level players.

Mbappe is France's rising star and Giroud is second in his nation's all-time top scorer's chart. If they play together, there will be no issues.

But I expect France to start with Benzema, Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann against Germany. You don't recall someone like Benzema to leave him on the bench.

The trio are one of the best attacks at Euro 2020 and Germany will have their work cut out to stop them.

I think the key will be halting the service to them, because however well you marshal France's strikers, they have the ability to do something special and turn the game in seconds.

That might be why Joachim Loew has been playing a 3-4-3 system in recent matches.

Antonio Ruediger said Germany need to "be a little dirty" and not always "try to play nice football" against France.

He's right, Germany must stop France playing their game.

But they have to offer a threat of their own. One way is to play balls over the French defence.

They have the pace to capitalise on this in Timo Werner, Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry and also players with the passing ability to release them, like Toni Kroos, Mats Hummels and Joshua Kimmich.

Don't expect France to be too expansive, though. Their squad may be better than the one that won the 2018 World Cup, but their style won't change.

 

I expect them to top the Group of Death, with holders Portugal, Germany and Hungary fighting it out to join them in the knockout stage.

Germany are in transition and I don't think they are one of the eight best teams at the Euros.

The coach is also in transition, with Hansi Flick replacing Loew after the tournament.

Their best hope is to finish second, because if they end up as one of the best third-placed teams, Belgium could lie in wait.

Like France, the Red Devils are a step ahead of Germany.

  • United Arab Emirates technical director Michel Sablon was part of Belgium's coaching staff at three World Cups, including 1986, when they finished fourth. The former Belgian FA technical director is credited with developing the blueprint that produced their current golden generation of footballers.
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